Update on Shareware Story and 1,000 True Fans
Posted on April 22, 2008 Posted by John Scalzi 11 Comments
Folks have asked when I’m going to have an update on how much money has come in from the shareware release of my story “How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story.” Well, tomorrow evening it will have been up for a week, so I suspect that will be a good time for a status check. So expect that tomorrow, in the evening. In the meantime, if you want to check it out and maybe chip in a little cash to be counted toward the weekly tally, you’ve got, oh, about 24 hours from this moment to do that.
Vaguely related to this, you’ll recall my entry on the “1,000 True Fans” concept, in which I said, basically, that it’s a nice idea in theory, but in execution it’s not as easy as you might think. Musician Robert Rich, who has been living the 1KTF life for a while now, chimes in on his blog about the realities of living that sort of lifestyle, in which we learn that a) it’s not all skittles and beer, or even Skittlebraü, and b) in order to have a thousand true fans (or some approximate number thereof) it helps to have gone through a stage where you had a rather significantly larger number of more casual fans first. Both of these make perfect sense to me.
Wow – nice to see one of my favorite writers reference one of my favorite musicians!
I’ve been working on a little project with Robert for a few years and he’s a great guy. Check out his tunes if you like ambient electronic stuff. I do.
*THAT* was an extremely well written letter by Robert. He really captured the experience and thoughts of a modern musician/artist trying to make a way…
It sure ain’t easy. I’ve had about 5,000 regular readers at my webcomic for a couple years now, and not one “True Fan” among them – at least in the 1KTF “make a living” financial input sense.
There are 10 or 12 really cool people who read everything and email me about stuff and come see me at cons when I’m nearby, but none of them have much disposable income, it seems. Wonderful people though, and nice to interact with; those few can help make me feel like I’m doing something that contributes a little bit. “)
I think that your take was pretty much spot-on…even the True Fans will not drop the same amount every year. They’ll do it for the first year, sure enough, but then they own all your books/albums/pretty bracelets, and that’s that. The 1KTF model is flawed.
Thanks for the reminder; I had forgotten to send another payment after I read the story! I look forward to the numbers.
Reading Robert Rich’s comments reminds me of a bumper sticker I see a lot of local musicians with: “Real musicians have a day job”.
From reading his blog comment, I think that he’s one of the few exceptions – someone making marginally enough off the concerts and media to support himself on it, out in the middle of the long tail. But as a rule, most people in the middle of that are going to be doing it as hobbyists or as a labor of love, not how they support themselves fulltime.
I know a lot of musicians – my wife is one, and some of her friends have done widely distributed albums, popular enough to have found them at Tower before it imploded. All of them have day jobs.
In the speculative fiction realm, it runs the gamut. One person I know was working as a substitute english teacher for years until his writing got popular enough, though he was doing quite a bit of commercial fantasy and sci-fi and games writing.
It doesn’t help your shareware totals, but those of us who got the story in return for forcing you to go to that evil museum should count as some fraction of true fans for your 1KTF total…
I don’t know if you should count us as 75% TF (True Fans)/25 % CL (Creationism Laughers) or if the ratio should be closer to 50-50.
But I don’t know how many of us are likely to pay again for the story as shareware, and I’d hate for that to count against our fractional true fandom :)
OK so donated $$ for the Creation Museum trip and donated again for the shareware story and I don’t otherwise (as far as I know) exhibit any boorish fanboyesque behavior other than buying a copy of OMW for people when I otherwise buy them things off of their Amazon wishlist as a lagniappe.
So I humbly submit my application for the TF1K list.
Also kind of curious how many contributions you got for the shareware story, versus the number of downloads of the story there were. Is there a way to track that? Would show how worthwhile doing things this way is versus the traditional method of having people pay “before” reading the story.
Jerry Pournelle has done something similar to the 1ktf, except that he calls them Platinum subscribers. But then he is read for his technical expertise as much as his fiction, or at least he is at Chaos Manor. Does not help his cause that he is going through some serious physical problems theses days.
I first started reading Chaos Manor when it was basically print only and thought that he was in the ranks with Ghengis Khan and the like. I have since grown up, and seen that he actually has evidence to back up a lot of his views and opinions. Then too, he has a lot of smart people, more than a few that disagree with him, that he has dialogues with on a regular basis. A nice change from the usual name calling one sees on the world wide wasteland.
Is there a fourth OMW novel out there? I seem to recall a reference to a novel that might have been set in that ‘verse here lately.
Thanks for your views and opinions that continue to make me think.
Hey there – thanks for the kind referral to my 1ktf reply. A friend who knew your work commented to me that he saw a reference here, so I had a look. I’m amazed at how wide the spectrum of artists and art lovers who have chimed in about my response to KK’s question. I imagine literature is even harder to sell to readers than sound is to listeners, considering the lower bandwidth required. (And considering how long it takes me to write coherent words, I think a book should cost more than a CD!)
Kind Regards – Robert Rich